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The Arabs Look Inward

Across the Arab world, the fall of Baghdad on April 9th is seen as a day of shame, reminiscent of June 5th 1967, when Israel defeated the armies of three Arab countries, conquering the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and East Jerusalem in a mere six days.

Arab intellectuals, and indeed the wider Arab public, are now busy trying to analyze and understand the lessons of the Iraqi earthquake. Meanwhile, supporters of the former Ba'athist regime in Iraq and others are now busy defending the same old totalitarian mindset. Their tactic has been to obstruct a clear review of the Iraqi catastrophe by suggesting that any criticism of Saddam's regime is tantamount to supporting the American occupation of Iraq.

For example, Fahd Al-Fanek, a former Ba'ath Party member, is now a columnist for the Jordanian newspaper Al-Ra'i. In April, he wrote that the end of Saddam's hold on power in Iraq ``provided the opportunity for the enemies of the regime to shed crocodile tears at democracy and to denounce repression and dictatorship as an indirect gesture welcoming the American occupation.'' None of the anti-Saddam sentoment, Al-Fanek argued, was ``intended to serve the cause of democracy, but to support the American position and justify the American occupation.''

Interestingly, such retrospective support for Saddam and his dictatorial regime is now being met with growing indignation in the Arab World, because ordinary Arabs are only now learning of the crimes perpetrated by the Ba'ath Party regime. Apologists for Saddam's rule are now facing some difficult questions.